I know. I know, I know.
I said to look for this Wednesday, but I found some time to write this early. Is it 3:48 in the AM? Yes. This is when I have time people. I don't see how it should affect you that much when I write.
Well, maybe you've guilted me into quitting. Maybe you've guilted me into saving this document and getting back to it in the morning. I mean the real morning—when the rest of you are awake. I've been staring at the time for…six minutes now so that it is now 3:54 AM and I'm thinking a little sleep might be nice. Useful. Beneficial.
But, nah. Haven't got time to sleep.
So, I thought I would post an excerpt from Daughter of Helaman each week until it is released, but that's a lot of excerpts. And well, I thought, "Misty, you've got quite a few great manuscripts to choose from," (I can compliment myself in my own head, that's okay). "Why don't you choose something from one of those?" Of course I thought this was an okay idea (if we were still in my head, it would have been a stupendous idea…see how that works?)
And anyway, today we will have an excerpt from The Stripling War. So many good parts in this book. This is one of my favorites. But I have about twenty favorite parts, so that's not saying a whole stinking lot. I was hoping I could find something shorter than last week, but…well, I couldn't. Deal.
"I am not spoken for," I told Gideon later when we sat on an outcropping overlooking the city. There was indeed movement happening, though we couldn't determine what they meant to accomplish by it.
Gideon didn't speak right away. Nearly twenty, he was clearly full-grown. I felt like a child sitting next to him. Seventeen now, I wasn't a child—but sometimes I still felt like one.
"But your heart is divided," he said with aching surety.
We spent three nights in the hills together. The first night was cold, as I'd predicted. We could have no fire, and so when my teeth began to chatter, Gideon sat against a tree and I slept leaning back against him in the warm circle of his arms while he kept watch.
The next two nights were warmer but rainy, and we built a shelter from broad evergreen leaves and took turns sleeping tucked up against the rocks at the base of the outcropping in our bedrolls.
Beyond what the spies already knew, we didn't learn anything from our time together on the west side of the city. We were too far away.
When we met up again with Kenai and Jonas, Kenai said, "We still can't determine what they're doing."
We were all quiet.
"Have you ever tried sending someone into the city?" asked Gideon.
"No," said Kenai gravely and leveled a look at me and a long silence dragged out between us.
"You want me to go in," I said suddenly, realizing what that look meant.
"No," he said quietly. "But you're the only one of us who can."
I looked to Gideon. He agreed with Kenai—none of them could enter the city. They looked like Nephites, and they looked like soldiers. A glance at Jonas told me he wouldn't argue.
"Okay," I said, raising my chin. "When? How?"
A strange look fell over Kenai's face, one of both relief and regret.
Gideon took a menacing step toward Kenai. "That's the reason you chose her, isn't it? The reason you brought her."
Kenai shifted uncomfortably, but he gestured to me and said, "Just look at her! She looks exactly like our mother. Her dark hair and eyes will get her through the city gates with no one the wiser."
"And the fact that she's a young girl—she won't even be challenged," put in Jonas.
"She won't attract any attention," added Kenai.
"She's your sister!" Gideon cried.
"She's a soldier!" Kenai shot back.
I stepped between them. "I said I'd do it."
They both looked at me. Gideon's throat worked.
Kenai spoke to Gideon over my head. "Perhaps, Gid, my sister's heart was not the one I should have been concerned about."
Without a word to any of us, Gideon turned his back and walked angrily away. I knew he hated when his feelings for me got in the way of his responsibilities. They confused him, and he felt guilty when they compromised his sense of duty.
I watched Gideon walk away.
I turned to Kenai. "Tell me what to do."